Date of Award

Fall 11-12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Katie Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Reid, Ph.D.


International students, Asian-Indian, female students, India


The United States continues to be the primary country of destination that international students choose for enrollment in American colleges and universities. Indian international students constitute the second largest enrollment among international students in America with over 200,000 enrolled in 2019 (Institute of International Education, 2020). However, research on the transition experiences of international students is relatively devoid of critical explorations on the transition experiences of Indian international female students to the effects of acculturation.

The current research explored the lived experiences of twelve Indian international female students enrolled in graduate programs at five American universities. The participants’ descriptions of their transition experiences as they adjust to their new cultural and academic environment in the United States provided rich information. The data was analyzed using the theoretical underpinnings of the research that included Schlossberg’s transition theory and Berry’s bidimensional acculturation theory. Several primary and subthemes emerged from a thick analysis of the data, which proved to shed light on the lived experiences of the participants.

Participants in the study typically faced challenges in adapting to academic expectations, adjusting to cultural differences and practical life stressors, and transitioning to new career prospects in the United States. However, supportive factors included their resilient attitudes and supportive relationships with their families, professors and mentors, and other Indian international students. In addition, implications for education, research, and practice were discussed.